Erica Chriss, PushSpring EVP Business Development & Marketplace

It’s no secret that marketing has become more data-driven. Every day, there are more data providers cropping up and data sets to choose from to help clothing brands reach Millennial moms or enterprise software providers reach heads of IT, for example. This can create a sort of data-buying paralysis or a tendency to stick to the providers and data sets you know.

This, of course, can limit your future success with marketing campaigns. Here’s a five step checklist for evaluating new data providers or taking a second look at the ones you already use:

1. Clarity of Methodology: Many providers sound the same on paper, but their differences come to light when you look at how they derive their data sets. Ask an existing or potential data provider about their methodology and what sets them apart from others.

2. Taxonomy Completeness: Robust taxonomies are gold to marketers looking to personalize content for specific audiences. Data providers worth exploring won’t lump all coffee buyers or coffee shops into one segment, for example. They’ll create multiple segments—Light Roast Drinkers, Frequent Coffee Shop Visitors, Dunkin' Doughnuts coffee buyers, and more. This sort of depth gives you the option to choose a niche data set or a standard and broad audience set, depending on your campaign goals.

3. Segment Descriptions: The care a data provider puts into their sourcing can show in their segment descriptions. Reading them will give you insight into whether or not a particular data set will work for you. Going back to the coffee example above, here’s a description that could accompany a data set for Frequent Coffee Shop Visitors: True coffee enthusiasts. Light roast, Dark roast or espresso, day or night, these customers visit a coffee shop like Starbucks, Peet's, Dunkin' Doughnuts or Tully's a minimum of 5x per week, within the last 30 days.

4. Seasonal or Topically Relevant Segments: The data relationships you build are ones that you want to rely on throughout the year for tentpole campaigns. If Back to School, Valentine’s Day, March Madness and other annual events are important to you, ask data providers to show you what they have that can help enhance your seasonal campaigns.

5. Analyze the Data on Your Data: The good thing about the data available to marketers is there is usually performance data on it. Any data provider worth talking to should be open about what’s worked well historically and how they’ve iterated on their data ever since a segment was created.

The above is a basic blueprint to get you started with vetting data providers and having more productive conversations with them. In doing so, you’ll find out what else is important to you and how you can build a stronger data foundation not only for your marketing, but for your company’s business as a whole.

Interested in learning more about marketing personas and what’s trending in the data realm? Download the Q1 PushSpring Audience Report.